Embodying a life well lived - Juniper
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Embodying a life well lived

John Emmett admits the jobs he’s had and people he’s met over the years have played a huge part in shaping who he is today.

The 80-year-old Mosman Park resident’s life story spans multiple continents and a career that includes time spent as a footman for Viscount Leverhulme at the National Heritage-listed Thornton Manor in England, a butler at Government House in Perth and working as a ship steward.

“Positions and status never really fazed me,” John explains. “I’ve always seen people for who they are and how they deal with situations and one another.

“The people I worked for appreciated the fact I didn’t grovel or fumble and, as a consequence, they relaxed and warmed towards me.

“It became apparent, as I got older, that I had a natural capacity to just get on with things, but I think when you’ve looked after people, it’s kind of ingrained in you.”

It was in 1963 when, as a young man working as a servant for Philip Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme, John was engaged to work as a valet and footman for then Governor of Western Australia, Sir Douglas Kendrew.

After three years at Government House, John returned to the UK with his West Australian girlfriend to introduce her to his “rather large” family, which included seven siblings. During that visit, he was asked to join Daylesford House, the country home of Viscount Rothermere in beautiful Gloucestershire.

“Viscount Rothermere enjoyed understated wealth and elegance in all that he did and all he came into contact with,” John explains.  “His staff were duplicated at both his country home and London home.”

Next came the role of butler to Lord and Lady Mostyn at Mostyn Hall, a heritage-listed mansion house in North Wales, estimated to have been built around 1470.

“The incredible silver amassed from those times was still in the house when I joined,” John recalls. “They were stunning, priceless pieces of history.”

Eventually the call came to return to Government House, where John says he enjoyed “a higher level of care than most people would ever experience”.

It meant he was also on hand to help entertain the likes of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, former Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, and countless other dignitaries.

John has vivid memories of his time with the Governor, including touring the north-west by land and sea, attending official receptions and visiting stations for overnight stays.

“There was very little bitumen on the northwest coastal highway, so it was always an eventful exercise,” he recalls.

“Mobile phones had not even been thought of back then, so we had to rely on police radios to inform our next hosts of our position and estimated time of arrival.

“But the hand of welcome was evident at every stop and has stayed with me even to this day.

“Kendrew was a really great boss. He made sure, quietly, that I was in on everything, to listen, and learn by observing too. What a lucky fellow I was.”

John says he’ll never forget the level of support he received while helping others.

“I think my experiences have definitely led me through a long life of helping and caring for others,” John says. “In truth, I enjoy and carry, an open heart for all.”

He confesses, though, the years have also taught him to be a little over resilient – meaning he doesn’t always find it easy to ask for help!

However, after a spate of falls in 2022, John ended up at Charles Gairdner Hospital before being moved to Hollywood and then Juniper in Bentley, where he ended up staying for six weeks due to the COVID lockdowns.

Despite being fiercely independent, after enduring 14 surgeries he knew he needed to reach out for support when he returned home.

“I’d heard about Juniper from other people and made some enquiries,” he says. “I saw some goodness behind what they do, which I desperately needed because I was going downhill quite rapidly.”

John is now on a Juniper Home Care Package, which includes weekly sessions with his physiotherapist Nick to strengthen his legs and decrease his risk of falling.

He’s also formed a strong bond with his Juniper community support workers Sue and Margreta, who help him with showering, housework and shopping.

“Margretta is very funny, and we have a good laugh,” John chuckles. “I’m pretty particular when it comes to grocery shopping because I really like to cook for myself, but she understands exactly what I need.”

A self-confessed stickler for routine, John says his Home Care Package allows him to live life on his terms, just with the added peace of mind he has support there when he needs it.

“I prefer being at home because I can do as I wish,” he says. “When my routine is taken off me, everything collapses. All I want to do is live a life of peace without anxiety.”

His secret to finding peace in life?

“I learnt a long time ago that if you experience a negative thought, turn it immediately into a positive one, then all will be well with you and those around you” he says.

“It has led me through a long life of helping and caring for others.”

"I learnt a long time ago that if you experience a negative thought, turn it immediately into a positive one, then all will be well with you and those around you. It has led me through a long life of helping and caring for others.”
John Emmett